This & That: February 9, 2024 — Valentine’s Day edition
Friday February 9, 2024

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I learned recently of Kiley Reid’s New York Times bestselling novel that takes readers back to the college campus. Set on the campus of University of Arkansas, “Millie Cousins, a senior resident assistant, wants to graduate, get a job, and buy a house. So when Agatha Paul, a visiting professor and writer, offers Millie an easy yet unusual opportunity, she jumps at the chance. But Millie’s starry-eyed hustle becomes jeopardized by odd new friends, vengeful dorm pranks, and illicit intrigue.”A book about the end result desired and the temptations to compromise integrity to attain said outcomes. Critics are enjoying it, and perhaps this plot has piqued your curiosity. Read NPR’s review here and the WSJ’s here.

You may remember a few year’s back the discussion about refraining from throwing the second dart, a term included in Ichiro Kishimi’s first book, The Courage to Be Disliked. Dedicating an entire episode (#301) to this book, I appreciated its contents immensely. The Courage to Be Happy is the second in his series and is written in the same framework as Disliked “sharing the teachings of Alfred Adler, one of the giants of 19th-century psychology, through another dialogue between the philosopher and the young man”.

What readers will discover in The Courage to Be Happy is “a bold new way of thinking and living, empowering you to let go of the shackles of past trauma and the expectations of others, and to use this freedom to create the life you truly desire.” I look forward to reading it.

Released this past January, I have been saving this book for this week’s This & That post as it is the Valentine’s Day edition. Described as a “crash course in understanding how you show up in a relationship and how to get out of negative cycles”, Secure Love, written by Julie Menanno, a couple’s therapist behind the popular Instagram account @TheSecureRelationship, teaches readers how to establish a secure attachment with their partner to create the bond they’ve been longing for.

Bring on the art, bring on the history, set it primarily in France, and I will be reading this book! Released just this past Tuesday by art historian Noah Charney, The Thefts of the Mona Lisa, such acts that, along with the painting being a remarkable example of Renaissance portraiture, contribute to its being the most famous artwork in the world, “examines the criminal biography of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, with a focus on separating fact from fiction in the story of what is not only the most famous art heist in history, but which is the single most famous theft of all time.

“In the process he delves into Leonardo’s creation of the Mona Lisa, discusses why it is so famous, and investigates two other events in its history of theft and renown. First, it examines the so-called ‘affaire des statuettes,’ in which Pablo Picasso and Guillaume Apollinaire were arrested under suspicion of involvement in the theft of the Mona Lisa. Second, there has long been a question as to whether the Nazis stole the Mona Lisa during the Second World War—a question that this book seeks to resolve.” Certainly one for sleuths and historians to enjoy.

SJ Bennett has created a whipsmart and modern historically intriguing series with her Majesty the Queen investigates. With Bennett’s inside knowledge of the going-ons of the Firm, she brings an authenticity to the relationships, positions held by the myriad of people as well as respectful depiction of Queen Elizabeth.

The third book in this series only just recently was released, this past September (thoroughly enjoyed it), and already the fourth is available which delighted me to discover. A Death in Diamonds however is slightly different because it is not set in the recent past (the past 5-10 years were the settings of the previous three mysteries) but instead in 1957 when a young woman is found dead in a mews house a mile from Buckingham Palace. My copy is ordered and en route. I cannot wait to dive in.

The Financial Times brought this new historical book to my attention, and released just in time for Valentine’s Day too (February 13th). In Love and Marriage in the Age of Jane Austen Rory Muir “uncovers the excitements and disappointments of courtship and the pains and pleasures of marriage, drawing on fascinating first-hand accounts as well as novels of the period. From the glamour of the ballroom to the pressures of careers, children, managing money, and difficult in-laws, love and marriage came in many guises: some wed happily, some dared to elope, and other relationships ended with acrimony, adultery, domestic abuse, or divorce. Muir illuminates the position of both men and women in marriage, as well as those spinsters and bachelors who chose not to marry at all.”

A wonderful mug to have if you are a teacher, dare I say, a special drinking mug of choice to bring some smiles to the room full of students, but for all of us, perhaps a fun mug to give to someone we love, and available at a good price too.

A head’s up on this one, Yotam Ottolenghi is an Israeli-born British chef, restaurateur, and food writer who co-owns seven delis and restaurants in London, and having already had great success with previous cookbooks, it is his new one, Comfort, that home cooks are eager to scoop up.

Being released next fall in the UK and in October in the states, you can preorder it from Amazon (to arrive in October ’24), or order it from Blackwell’s and receive it the first week of September ’24. But what is all the excitement about, you may be wonderings?

Comfort strives to take a flavour-forward approach to comfort cooking, delivering new classics that taste of home. Let me tempt your tastebuds:

A bowl of pasta becomes Caramelised Onion Orecchiette with Hazelnuts & Crispy Sage, a warming soup is Cheesy Bread Soup with Savoy Cabbage & Cavolo Nero, and a plate of mash is transformed into Garlicky Aligot Potato with Leeks & Thyme.

“With 100 recipes shared from memories of his childhood and travel, Ottolenghi COMFORT is a celebration of food and home – of the connections we make as we cook, and pass on from generation to generation”.

Described by The Financial Times as a ‘joyfully barbed satire on race and writing’, American Fiction is a film I am quite looking forward to watching later this month. American Fiction is based on the novel Erasure by Percival Everett (2001) and has garnered many nominations during this year’s award season with five nominations for the 96th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Wright), and Best Supporting Actor (Brown), as well as two nominations for the 81st Golden Globe Awards, and won Best Adapted Screenplay at the 29th Critics’ Choice Awards. Listen to a conversation with CBS Sunday Morning with the four female leads, and read why British Vogue considers the film to be a Best Picture contender that is flying under the radar. Check out the trailer below.

If you are looking for a rom-com this Valentine’s Day weekend, explore watching Upgraded. Set primarily in London, and centering around the art world, the plot begins to take shape when Ana is upgraded to first class on a work trip; she meets handsome Will, who mistakes her for her boss (played by Marisa Tomei). The white lie that sets off a glamorous chain of events, romance, and opportunity, until her fib threatens to surface. You will see some familiar French (Call Your Agent) and British (Derry Girls) faces in this film along with a playful plot set in a beautiful city many of us love. Have a look at the trailer below and look for it to premiere today on Amazon Prime.

I shared another find at British interior designer Nina Campbell’s online boutique above, but I had to include a second find, because this one is a gem, and it is a Francophile Find. Petite breakfast cups & saucers ideal for Valentine’s Day or enjoying tea in a very ‘lovely’ way, her porcelain heart series is made in Limoges, France, and is available in a variety of different colors. Loving the gold fine trim. View all of the colors here.

Alright my fellow home bakers! This unique, yet classic ceramic tart pan will give you the finishing edges of flourish you want with your pastry without having to do a thing. But there are only four left, so scoop it up if you love it!

I will be starting my Apple TV+ streaming subscription back up next week with the premiere of The New Look series, starring Juliette Binoche as Coco Chanel and Ben Mendelsohn as Christian Dior. The series reveals the shocking story of how fashion icon Christian Dior and his contemporaries, including Coco Chanel, Pierre Balmain and Cristóbal Balenciaga, navigated the horrors of World War II and launched modern fashion”. Enjoy 10 episodes, one released each Wednesday beginning February 14th. Have a look at a few of the photos captured on set, and then the trailer below.

French actor Juliette Binoche has a very full publicity week here in the states because The Taste of Things will finally be released today as well as the above mentioned series, The New Look. I LOVED this film, and shared all of my thoughts as well as background details about this beautifully delicious offering in this week’s podcast episode #374 as the film was chosen as the Petit Plaisir. Read all about the film here.

Episode 331

A perfect hip-length warm coat that can dress up the everyday routines, and it’s on sale.

Screenshot 2024 02 08 At 10.31.59 am

Wide-leg pants continue to remain en vogue, and if you are wondering how to style them, Who What Wear has a detailed post full of images to help you out. Why not add these timeless draped crepe pants from J.Crew (a great price to start embracing this style), and see how they will work in your capsule wardrobe?

Screenshot 2024 02 08 At 10.26.30 am

Winter is still upon us, but why not lighten it up a bit with a cotton jumper with side-buttons and nautical stripes?

Screenshot 2024 02 08 At 10.29.41 am

Tory Burch Ballet Loafer, four colors

I am loving this new style from Tory Burch, and at a price that is quite nice as well from her collection (fewer than $300). I think the creme hue, but then the brown spoke to me. Not sure which it will be, but one will likely be picked up soon.

A new series I thoroughly enjoyed last year is returning next week for its second season. Set in Portland, Oregon, So Help Me Todd will be back next Thursday, February 15th. Starring Skylar Astin as Todd and Marcia Gay Harden as his mother, a lawyer, the crimes are creative, but not gruesome, and there is a whole lot of fun to go around. With nearly every episode last year, I recognized where they were in and around the city, and look forward to seeing where they will film this go-round. Below is a brief trailer.


Happy Friday. And welcome to the weekend.

The pups and I took a mini getaway mid-week to say hello to the Pacific, something we usually do over the New Year holiday, but thought February might be a beautiful time of year to exchange hellos instead, and boy, we may have found the ideal month folks. Gorgeous weather, abundant hellebores, the daffodils beginning to bloom and a quiet small coastal town. Forget the part where I got a flat tire, needing to have it fixed so I could drive back home, but even that went exceedingly well, and I couldn’t have been more grateful to everyone who helped us get back on the road again safe and sound.


I hope your week has gone well, and you are settling down for a couple of days to let go of having to tend to the ‘must-dos’ and instead savor more ‘get-tos’.

We will be tending to some work today and a bit over the weekend, but also relaxing a bit as well. Maybe up to the mountain for a quick loop or two as fresh snow has fallen and definitely whiling away much time reading, but otherwise quiet and simple which sounds absolutely lovely to me.

Psst! If you live in Portland, I have found, finally! after over two decades of searching, the BEST croissant in the city. Check out this IG post that I shared yesterday, and why not stop in there to pick up a sweet treat for yourself. A Valentine’s to you. I definitely did, albeit a little ahead of time, and savored every nibble. ☺️❤️ (I have updated my Travel Guides for Portland (free!) to include this French pâtisserie – located in one of my favorite neighborhoods in Portland.)

Thank you for stopping by today, and I hope you have a weekend full of moments sipping a good cuppa, strolls to where and what you most enjoy doing and of course, many everyday moments to savor. Until Monday, bonne journée.

~When it comes to finding enjoyment throughout our days, Slow down to fall in love again [Zen Habits]

~How to start a kitchen garden, what to do in February [House & Garden UK]

~Everything you ever wanted to know about all the different types of salts [NYTimes]

~The 20 Best Paris Hotels with Eiffel Tower Views [Frenchly]

~Reasons to put Dijon, France, on your places to visit [Forbes]

~3 Types of overthinking and how to overcome them [Harvard Business Review]

~If you’ve ever wondered about après-ski, what it is, where it is most indulged and more, this is the article to read [Afar]

~Parenting like a Parisian [Hip Paris]

~How to achieve great things [Atlantic]

~Life advice from those living to the age of 100 [The Washington Post]

~After listening to an interview with Jonathan Pryce who plays Prince Philip in season 5 & 6 of The Crown, he made a comment about always trying to be interesting and interested which is why I found this School of Life video intriguing and wanted to share.


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22 thoughts on “This & That: February 9, 2024 — Valentine’s Day edition

  1. Living in Vermont, I can easily imagine the joy at seeing daffodils and hellebores growing *outside* in early February! Those in our gardens and forest borders don’t really get going until April.
    Something about early spring blooms … snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils, forsythia, tulips, and (my favorite) fritillaria just revives the soul! Paired with the ocean – sounds like perfection.

    1. Megan,

      So true! I almost didn’t think they were real! Bend is similar to Vermont – spring starts very late comparably, so it was a true delight to see them. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by. And now I am curious to learn more about fritillaria as it is a plant/flower I am not familiar with. Thank you for the introduction. 🙂

    2. Megan,

      I just noticed the daffodil stems shooting up out of the ground in my yard, which lets me know that Spring is just around the corner. Always such a glorious sight.


  2. Happy Friday! Shannon, the pics you took at the ocean are stunning! The one with Nelle should be framed. I am so excited to see Juliette Binoche in The Taste of Things, and The New Look next week. I would also like to mention a very good foreign film that received several nominations at the Golden Globe Awards, “Past Lives”. It is a sweet love story for Valentine’s week. Savor lovely moments this weekend. 😊

    1. Past Lives is a wonderful film and as you said, ideal for Valentine’s Day! Thank you for bringing that back to the forefront of our memories. I had included it back this past summer when it was released, and I am sooooo tickled it has received recognition. Much deserved! Thank you for your kind words about the photographs. 🙂 Wishing you a wonderful weekend. xo

  3. To me, this week, Friday happens on a Saturday… 😉

    What caught my eye: the lovely ba&sh Kam loose-fitting coat, and the little video “Become Interesting”, which was interesting in itself – ha! – and I will want to watch it again and do some pondering there.

    Other highlight was Nelle’s photo by the ocean – precious! 🙂

    And just want to let you know that we watched Nyad and Good Grief, and I am to pass on to you the compliments from family and friends because “everything that TSLL recommends is a treat to watch”… So, there it is. 🙂

    Thanks and have a great weekend! 🙂

    1. Isabel, I love that you have your ritual on Saturday and am tickled it includes visiting TSLL to read the T & T post. 🙂

      And tickled to hear the films were both enjoyed. Certainly both different in comparison, but I so enjoyed them both. Extend my thanks to your family for their thoughtful words. xo

      Wishing you a most wonderful weekend savoring the everyday moments that bring joy to your days and moments.

  4. Good morning, Shannon.

    I am a little late to T&T this week, however better late than never, right?

    I just saw Come & Get It while reading my local newspaper this past Sunday. It looks like a very intriguing read. The University of Arkansas is not very far from me, and I know many who have attended, so I am interested to see how the area plays a part in the plot. I have not had a moment to read of late, but I would love to start SJ Bennett’s series.

    Looks like Upgraded will be on my Watchlist tonight. I am also awaiting The New Look. I think So Help Me Todd may be something my husband and I will both enjoy…which can be difficult at times 🙂

    It was almost like you wrote the article on advice for living 100 years, as I have heard many of those words from you as well. How to Be More Interesting reminded me of something I read not too long ago, perhaps here, about how we answer the question, “What have you been up to?” with the usual replies “Just work” or “The same old, same old”, and how we should answer by sharing the books we are reading, series we are watching, or an interesting article or fun fact that we have recently come across. I have begun doing this, and you can tell it throws people off a bit in the beginning because they are not used to hearing actual replies. It’s funny to see their responses.

    I was happy to see that you and your pups were able to enjoy your annual respite to the coast, and hope you are enjoying your weekend. The Pluviophile in me is loving this rainy day, and I am determined to just enjoy a day of doing nothing.

    Wishing you a lovely Valentine’s week showing yourself, and those fur babies of yours, lots of love.

    ~Michelle xx

  5. The overview photo of the coastal tides and beach is simply stunning. The photo of Nelle of course, but my dear, you do have an eye, well done. I always enjoy your photography.
    So Help Me Todd–many thanks for the reminder, I totally missed the first season and meant to watch, so will find a way to catch up somewhere, (YouTube I assume), and then watch properly for the 2nd season because it does look like such fun.
    The Empereur site–love. Have you introduced us before and I just didn’t pay attention? Many thanks for bringing it into focus again, if so.
    Ah, the Zen Habits article. Absolutely true. As you have pointed out throughout the years, slow down, breath, and really take notice, take stock, and then revel. 🦋
    The little video on How to Become More Interesting reminded me of advice my parents taught me and modeled. Be interesting to yourself and interested in others. Everything sort of works out after that.
    It has been the most lovely rainy day, abating enough at times to wander outside and potter about the garden, tucked into wellies and waterproofs, and then when the curtains of rain fell, back inside, snug with a warm cuppa, cats, and garden plans.
    Wishing you, Gentleman Norman, and Lady Nelle the most lovely end of your weekend, Shannon. A bientot. xx

  6. Good morning,
    The taste of things is right up on my list of films to watch!
    I have been reading the different articles you have suggested at the end of your post- the article about salt was a very interesting read.
    However, what brought me here was the article by Clare Foster on what to do in the garden during February.
    First, I need to tell you a little story. A few years ago, a family bought a lovely old house in my street. A year or two later their front garden became this beautiful spectacle of colour and texture. I jokingly told my husband that the lady in that house had to be a garden designer!
    Friday night here I am reading the article which I found really useful when I noticed the author had a video about her own house next to it. I clicked on the video and to my surprise Clare Foster lives in my street! The garden I have been admiring it’s her garden!
    Isn’t that the most wonderful coincidence?!
    Have a great week,

    1. Madalena, how lucky to be living just down the road from such inspiration AND now knowing who it is! Hopefully you’ll be able to run into each other in town or the neighborhood and you can let her know how much you enjoy her lovely garden and the HG article. Have a wonderful week. Rona xx

  7. Thank you Rona- yes, I am lucky indeed. Sometimes we take our surroundings for granted. The British countryside is very beautiful!
    Here is a link to a book she wrote. I have ordered it and will be having a go at growing my own flowers from seed. And yes, I will definitely thank her when I see her !
    Have a great week as well!

  8. Madalena, thank you very much for the link! Her second book looks just up my alley as well, container gardening!. And I am in love with Create Academy, introduced to me through House & Garden UK–here’s a link to her class on their site. I’m really contemplating an annual membership. I have Rita Koenig’s course and have so enjoyed that.
    Love to you & yours, Spring is just around the corner! xx Rona

  9. Rona, thank you so much for the link. I will be looking into it- I am feeling very inspired!
    Love to you and your family as well.

      1. I am not surprised:) I am learning so much by reading the articles Shannon selects for us and I appreciate the effort Shannon puts in to find all these wonderful sources of inspiration. So glad I found this community!

  10. Just catching up on the articles and much appreciated the inclusion of the French parenting article! It was interesting reading. I do love the message of a mother having her own life, as well as including her child in that life, and have come across it before in other books. Such as how to be Parisian.
    Sarah (and Erin)

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